A travel agent was charged with fraud Wednesday for collecting more than $240,000 from various Westchester parishes for area youth to attend World Youth Day in Europe, but instead spent the money on himself, according to Joon H. Kim, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Vincent Maffucci, 77, of Las Vegas, was charged with mail fraud in the scheme in which he collected the money for the Catholic Church tour in July and August 2016, Kim said.
Rather than use the money to pay for trip-related expenses, however, Maffuccj used more than $220,000 of the funds for his own personal expenses, Kim said.
World Youth Day drew more than a million young Catholics on a pilgrimage of prayer and friendship with Pope Francis. The event takes place every two to three years in different locations around the world. Youth Day 2016 was held in Krakow, Poland.
“Vincent Maffucci, a travel agent, allegedly collected over $240,000 from Westchester parishes, purportedly to organize a young people’s church tour to Europe," Kim said. "Instead of arranging the trip, Maffucci allegedly pocketed nearly all of the money and spent it on himself. Now Maffucci will face justice in federal court.”
Maffucci had dealt with the parties in the past helping to organize the event for Westchester youth, he added.
Working with the parishes, Maffucci provided a printed brochure, including an itinerary and a list of the various services provided in connection with the tour. Among other things, the tour was to include: “round trip airfare from JFK to Berlin returning from Budapest, Good 3 star hotels for 11 nights; Continental breakfast daily and 10 three course dinners”; “Entrance fees during sightseeing tours for a costs of “Triple $2,919 Twin $3,072 Single $3,515.”
After receiving the money from the parishes, Maffucci spent approximately $43,000 of the funds on dining, fuel, and clothing. In addition, he withdrew over $94,000 in cash, and made transfers totaling over $83,000 to other bank accounts that he controlled, Kim said,
In June 2016, the month before the trip was to take place, Maffucci canceled the tour, citing, among other reasons, concerns about terrorism and promised full refunds, according to Kim. To date, most of the participants have not received refunds, Kim said.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.